Boy needs friendship adviceQuestion #86: My parents are making me play on the rec baseball team. I like baseball, but I’m terrible at it. They say playing baseball will help me make friends, but I’m worried everyone will laugh at me. What should I do?
- David Afraidtoplay

Dear David,

It sounds like you feel self-conscious about your baseball skills. You’re worried that the other kids will judge you or make fun of you.

There are three things I’d like you to keep in mind:

1) There are many ways to contribute to a team. Think of your favorite professional athlete. He’s probably the star of his team! Does that mean the other players should give up and stay home? Of course not! Each player brings something to the team.

On the rec team, maybe there will be kids who are better hitters or catchers or runners than you. That’s OK. You can be the teammate who is most enthusiastic, or most cheerful, or most encouraging, or who tries hardest…

2) The only way you’ll improve your baseball skills is by practicing and getting feedback from a coach who can guide your learning. I am positive that if you work hard on the rec team and really listen to the coach, you will end the season a better player than you started! Will you be the star of the team? Who knows? It doesn’t matter because…

3) You don’t need to impress people to make friends. You said you like baseball. I bet there are other kids on the rec team who do, too. Kids make friends by doing fun things together.

And if someone does say something mean like “You stink at baseball!”? You don’t have to be wounded by that kind of comment. In fact, you can drain the power of a criticism by agreeing with it. Just answer cheerfully by saying, “Yeah, I definitely need to work on my fielding!” Then go hang out with someone kinder.

Best wishes in friendship,

Dr. Friendtastic